Sugar is the main cause of obesity apart from excess fat diets.
Posted on January 25th, 2014

Dr Hector Perera        London

The way the body and the brain regulate food intake is extremely complex and involves multiple hormones and neural circuits. I must say one cannot give enough evidence in one simple article, certainly it takes more but the general public might not be bothered to read if the article is too long, so I am making it summarised. The actual digestive process and the reasons why fructose is the worst will be explained in a later article.

Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Paediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, is one of the leading experts on childhood obesity, and has been a pioneer in decoding sugar metabolism. His work has highlighted the major differences in how different sugars are broken down and used by the human body.

There is a region in the brain called the hypothalamus, where all of these signals are interpreted.

Sugar Makes You Addicted

Sugar causes opiate and dopamine activity in the reward centres of the brain, just like other drugs of abuse like cocaine. In a large review paper published in 2008 in the journal of Neuroscience & Biobehavioural Reviews, researchers examined the evidence for the addictive potential of sugar.

These studies were done in rats, which are good representatives of humans because they become addicted to abusive drugs in the same way as we do.

A quote from the study:

“The reviewed evidence supports the theory that, in some circumstances, intermittent access to sugar can lead to behaviour and neuro-chemical changes that resemble the effects of a substance of abuse.”

The evidence is very strong for sugar being downright addictive. It makes perfect sense given that it affects the same neural pathways as drugs of abuse.

Dr Robert says, eating sugar gives us “pleasure” and releases opiates and dopamine in the reward system of the brain, specifically in an area called the Nucleus Accumbens. These are the same areas stimulated by drugs of abuse like nicotine and cocaine. For certain individuals with a certain predisposition, this can lead to full blown addiction.

Who are sugar addicts?

Individuals that get strong cravings for sugar and are unable to quit or reduce their consumption despite negative physical consequences (such as weight gain) are sugar addicts. I know some people needs 3 or 4 tea spoonfuls of sugar in a cup of tea, so how many cups of tea you drink a day? What about any fizzy drinks?

 Sugar, due to its powerful effects on the reward system in the brain, leads to classic signs of addiction comparable to drugs of abuse. This activates powerful reward-seeking behaviour that can drive overeating.

Sugar, not fat, exposed as deadly villain in obesity epidemic

It’s addictive and toxic, like a drug, and we need to wean ourselves off it, says Dr Robert Lustig.  The bitter truth about sugar has caused a backlash from the food industry, which, he says, wants to ‘paint me as this zealot’.

Sugar, given to children by adults, lacing their breakfast cereals and a major part of our fizzy drinks is the real villain in the obesity epidemic, and mainly not the fats as people used to think, according to a leading US doctor who is taking on governments and the food industry.

And yes, we definitely know that people will buy anything that’s marketed well. You might have noticed, quite often the supermarkets give away fizzy drinks, fruit juices and large chocolate slabs, at a price that you cannot go pass without buying those stuff. Remember they don’t force you but the prices and the products make you buy or get tempted.

Unfortunately, our current food industry doesn’t support a switch to whole, healthy foods. The food industry simply will not change without a fierce fight. Processed foods are HUGE business with great profit margins that is why the food industry does not like to change to totally healthy foods. Those are all good suggestions, but while politicians’ debate and search for their moral compasses, I suggest you do your own homework and change your own diet. At least that way you won’t be part of these sad disease statistics. Dr Robert further states that it’s the sheer over consumption that makes it so toxic to your system, yes it’s the over consumption. The central issue is that fructose is so cheap it is used in virtually all processed foods. If one were able to assiduously keep their total grams of fructose to below 25 per day then it would not be an issue. But the key here is that while that is theoretically possible, preciously how many people are doing that. 

You might get tired of it but you have to be a beacon of light to your friends and family and let them know so they can change their eating habits and avoid these very real dangers.

Dr Robert Lustig, who was in London and Oxford for a series of talks about his research, says there is a similarity of sugar to controlled drugs. Cocaine and heroin are deadly because they are addictive and toxic and so is sugar, he says. “We need to wean ourselves off. We need to de-sweeten our lives. We need to make sugar a treat, not a diet staple,” he said.

“The food industry has made it into a diet staple because they know when they do you buy more. This is their hook. If some unscrupulous cereal manufacturer went out and laced your breakfast cereal with morphine to get you to buy more, what would you think of that? They do it with sugar instead.”

Lustig’s book, Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar has made waves in America and has now been published in the UK by 4th Estate. As a paediatrician who specialises in treating overweight children in San Francisco, he has spent 16 years studying the effects of sugar on the central nervous system, metabolism and disease. His conclusion is that the rivers of Coca-Cola and Pepsi consumed by young people today have as much to do with obesity as the mountains of burgers.

Dr Robert came to these conclusions after years of research about the subject in U.S and now giving series of lectures at The Oxford University to help the people in England. He never said not to eat sugar or sugary products but advices to keep a control. The point is human temptation is to eat and drink without a limit. This is again due to greedy eagerness which has to be controlled for your own benefit. Any comments are welcomed

2 Responses to “Sugar is the main cause of obesity apart from excess fat diets.”

  1. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Also wheat raises blood sugar higher than most of the other foods. 4 slices of whole wheat bread raise blood sugar higher than 12 teaspoons of sugar. That’s a simple fact as per the table of glycemic index.
    Almost all wheat in USA is from a dwarf strain, which produces a far greater yield but has contributed to the current obesity epidemic.

  2. AnuD Says:

    Eat any starchy food, within 20 min blood sugar raises to the maximum.

    That is why it is important to eat lot of vegetables such as green leaves with rice. Long ago people such as farmers, who ate lot of rice also worked hard which made sugar burns fast. Even with the active body, they ate lot of Green leaves which made the rise of sugar levels slow.

    Additionally, eating of grains such as Kurahan, that had very low Glycemic values did not contribute high blood sugar levels.

    Now, people are lethargic, sedentary and most probably have removed green leaves from the diet.

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